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b. June 19, 1930
Cambria, Wisconsin, USA
She was born Virginia Cathryn Rowlands in the town of Madison, Wisconsin. Her father was Myrwyn Edwyn was a banker and lawmaker, her mother Mary Allen was a painter. She grew up in Wisconsin in 1939, when her father got a job at the Ministry of Agriculture and the family moved to Washington. After several years spent in Washington in 1942, the family moved again back to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the years 1947 – 1950 she attended the University of Wisconsin, then went to study theater at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.
Her acting career began with episodic roles in several TV series in the mid 50s. The first film role came in 1958 when her director José Ferrer cast in the role of his pregnant wife Jenny Fry’s comedy THE HIGH COST OF LOVING. Then followed again the amount of episodic roles. In 1961 she played Teddy Carella in 4 episodes 87th Precinct. In 1963 he collaborated for the first time on film with her husband John, who cast her as Sophie Widdicomb / Benhamovou, mother of an autistic student Reuben, into the drama A CHILD IS WAITING Burt Lancaster and Judy Garland in the lead roles. Another collaboration with her husband brought her in 1968, when it was cast in the role of a young hostess Jeannie Rapp, because that leaves Richrd (John Marley), his wife Maria (Lynn Carlin) in the drama FACES. In 1971, he starred in the title role of anxiety curator of the Museum of Modern Art More Minnie in a romantic comedy MINNIE AND Moskowitz, where her major acting partners her husband John and Seymour Cassel.
The turning point came in 1974, when her husband took to the harrowing and untidy portrait of a marriage and family life titled WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE. Gena in it again played starring Mabel Longhetti whose irascible and domineering husband Nick (Peter Falk) struggles with her mental instability. For the role of crazy Mabel Gena was first nominated for an Oscar for best actress in a leading role, won her Golden Globe and Best Actress Award at the International Film Festival in San Sebastian. In 1976 she played Janet in the thriller TWO-MINUTE WARNING.
A year later came to Genu more important role, and that role actress Myrtle Gordon, who suffered a shock when witnessing the accidental death of one of its fans, resulting in her emotional crisis, which also affects her work actress in the psychological drama the theater named OPENING NIGHT. Myrtle role for the International Film Festival in Berlin nominated for a Silver Bear for Best Actress and also received a Golden Globe nomination.
In 1980 came Genina probably life role when she played the title role again former mafia mistress Gloria Swenson, who protects a young boy Phil, but as the sole survivor of a mob destruction of his family in the drama of the same name GLORIA. For the role of Gloria won the Boston Film Critics, was nominated for a Golden Globe twice been nominated for an Oscar. Two years later at each other again attracted attention as Antonia Dimitriusová film TEMPEST.
The last of the films in which collaborated with her husband was shot LOVE STREAMS 1984, in which she played Sarah Lawson, who had just divorced her husband (Seymour Cassel), seeks to address the relationship with his daughter Debbie, who is better with the father, and besides, he lives in an apartment with his brother Robert, whose life fulfilled mainly alcohol, cigarettes and short-term familiarity with women. In 1987, Betty won the title role in the film THE BETTY FORD STORY. From Betty Arola won an Emmy and a Golden Globe. A year later, her film director Woody Allen cast her in the lead role in the film Marion another woman. The actor kairéře continued in the 90s, when in 1993 she played Peggy Sutherland in the war drama SILENT CRIES. In 1998 she appeared as the Ivy family comedy-drama PAPOUŠEK Paulie and also played Ramona Calvert, Birdee mother (Sandra Bullock), the romantic film PORT HOPE. In the same year she starred along with Angelina Jolie, Sean Connery and Madeleine Stowe Hannah role in the romantic comedy form of love. Even after 2000 we could see her in several films, starred for example, Virginia Miller, mother Debby (Uma Thurman) in a television drama Hysterical Blindness. For the role of Virginia won the 2003 Emmy Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe. In 2004 she appeared as Mrs. Asher in mysterious thriller Taking Lives, and her son Nick cast her in the role of Allie Calhoun, mother of Noah (Ryan Gosling) in the romantic drama The Notebook. For the role of Allie won the 2005 Golden Satellite Award. One of her most recent role was in the romantic comedy Vivien BROKEN ENGLISH directed by her daughter Zoe.
In April 1954 he became her husband, actor and director John Cassavetes, Gena with whom he has three children: son Nick and daughter Alexandra and Zoe. All children act both as actors and directors. The marriage ended until John’s death in February 1989.